n February 6, the Bush administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2007. Overall, funding levels for assistance programs that are primarily designed to assist state and local law enforcement agencies were slashed by more than $1 billion when compared to fiscal year 2006. This includes funding for assistance programs at both the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security. The proposed cuts continue the disturbing trend by both the Bush administration and Congress of significantly slashing the funding for critical state and local law enforcement assistance programs.
When combined, the proposed fiscal year 2007 funding level for Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security assistance programs is $1.535 billion. This is a reduction of $1.074 billion or 41 percent from the combined fiscal year 2006 level of $2.609 billion. It represents a decrease in $2.09 billion or 58 percent from fiscal year 2005, and a decrease of $3.171 billion or 67 percent since fiscal year 2004.
Department of Justice
Funding for the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program, which was established two years ago by combining the Byrne grant program and the Local Law Enforcement Block grant program, was completely eliminated. President Bush proposed eliminating this program last year as well. In fiscal year 2006, it received $416.5 million, down from $634 million in fiscal year 2005.
In addition, the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was significantly cut in the proposed budget. The budget proposes just $102 million for the program, down from $478.3 million in fiscal year 2006, which represents a 78 percent decrease. However, $100 million of this amount is actually funding that will be carried over from previous budgets. As a result, this means that the president has only proposed $2 million in new funding for the COPS Office.
In fiscal year 2006, these two primary law enforcement assistance programs received $894.8 million. The administration's budget would fund these crucial programs at just $102 million, a cut of $792.8 million, or 87 percent.
Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security would receive an 8 percent increase over last year's funding. But in spite of the overall budget increase, the proposed budget actually provides for a decrease in funding for the three primary assistance programs from which law enforcement agencies are eligible to obtain funds: the State Homeland Security Grant program (SHSG), the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program (LETPP), and the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI). Combined, these three programs received $1.715 billion last year. The proposed budget would allocate $1.433 billion for the programs, a decrease of 16.4 percent.
Specifically, the proposed budget would completely eliminate the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program, which received $400 million last year. LETPP funds are designated solely for the use of state and local law enforcement agencies.
The proposed budget would provide a slight increase (12 percent) in SHSG funds, from $550 million to $616 million. The funds are distributed to the states on a formula basis, 80 percent of which must be passed on to local governments. These funds are not designated solely for law enforcement use but can be used to fund a wide range of other public safety agencies like fire departments and EMS who have responsibilities related to preparing or responding to terrorist attacks.
There is also an increase in funding for the Urban Area Security Initiative, from $765 million to $817 million, a 6.8 percent increase. This program allocates funds to urban areas selected by the Department of Homeland Security based on a formula that takes into account factors such as critical infrastructure, population density, and credible threat information. But most law enforcement agencies are not eligible to receive funds under the urban area grant program and will be forced to compete for funding assistance from a much smaller pool of money. Once the urban grants are excluded, the proposed funding levels for most state and local public safety agencies is reduced by more than 35 percent from fiscal year 2006 levels, and almost 59 percent from fiscal year 2005.
The Bush administration's submission of its budget proposal represents the first step in the federal budget process. Over the next several weeks, the House and Senate budget committees will begin work on drafting the Congressional Budget Resolution. This nonbinding document serves as a statement of Congress's priorities in the budget process. At the same time, the various subcommittees of the House and Senate appropriations committees will begin their efforts to craft the 13 appropriation bills that actually fund the federal government. Throughout this process, the IACP will be working closely with Members of Congress and their staff in an effort to ensure that the needs of the state and local law enforcement community are adequately addressed in fiscal year 2007. ■